PROCESSING EXTRACTS FROM YOUR FAN LEAVES, TRIM AND POPCORN NUGS
By Cosmos Burningham
Most growers really have to be on their A-game and pay attention to detail, bootstrapping wherever possible to eek out a profit margin these days. With wholesale flower prices at about half of what they were just ten short years ago in some states, savvy horticulturalists have found another SKU or two in their inventory, so to speak.
Lately processors and middlemen are lurking all around with paper to spend on your trim, leaf and duff (a term we have collectively coined as larf). Larf used to pile up in the old days–save it up and kick it down to your one friend that runs bubble bags–the guy that never has nugs but always has a hash patty for atop your bowl.
Today that larf fetches a premium, and with flower prices as low as they are and a supersaturated market on the horizon, smaller gardeners that want to stay in the game will be increasingly looking to their “larf” for signs of profits.
So what are they doing with all this larf and how much are they paying? Prices are relative to geography, and supply and demand of course, and the variety of extract methods seems to grow daily.
With the explosion of new methods comes a variety of fancy looking products and a glossary of slang that continues to proliferate by the minute on social media.
Cannabis concentrates have proven to be effective for patients suffering from all sorts of ailments. When made properly, a cannabis concentrate is reminiscent of the cannabis strain it was extracted from; the smell, taste, and effects are simply magnified due to a larger concentration by weight.
Some purists, like myself, argue that the entourage effect of the plant and the unique dynamic relationship and balance of its components are displaced, no matter the method altering the overall balance and profile of the finished product.
The extraction of cannabis concentrates is a complex and potentially dangerous process and should only be performed by trained professionals. The following briefly describes the most widely used extraction methods for now.
DRY SIEVE (DRY SIFT)
A popular form of non-solvent hash is dry sieve (sometimes referred to as “dry sift”). Put simply, dry sieve is a refined version of kief that has been run through a series of screens so that only the trichome heads remain. This is among the easiest ways to produce hash, using just a few good screens to filter out the plant matter. The level of quality is often determined by the amount of plant matter and capitulate trichome stalks found in the final product.
This process at its highest level yields nothing but the largest, most perfect trichome gland heads and none of the gland stems, plant matter, etc. that generally cloud the quicker, lower-quality kief extractions. The most pure dry sieve hash should melt completely when exposed to heat, known as full-melt dry sieve hash.
Kief is the simplest of concentrates. Kief is composed of the trichomes (the crystalline structures coating the outside surface of the flowers) broken away from the dried plant material, usually via specialized filtering screens and a little elbow grease. Kief is generally considered a lower-quality extract, but some top-flight extractors can produce an extremely clean and flavorful product using the dry sieve method. THC content can range from 20% to 60%, on average.
Hash has been around for centuries, and there are plenty of processes by which hash can be made. Ice water extraction is one of the most common processes used to create quality non-solvent hash. The main goal and fundamental idea behind the ice water extraction process is to isolate the trichome heads from the plant matter that carry little-to-no medicinal value.
The quality of the resulting hash is often determined by the size of the isolated trichome heads and the extent to which it melts when heated (full-melt being the best). The most important part of the ice water extraction process is drying the final product. If not properly dried, the hash can develop mold and other forms of potentially dangerous microbiological life.
Additionally solvents like ice water or ethanol may be used to more effectively strip the cannabis plant of its trichomes. Though not as potent as BHO and other cannabis concentrates, hash remains a staple of cannabis culture around the world for its clean, all-natural extraction process.
BUTANE HASH OIL (BHO)
Butane Hash Oil, commonly referred to as BHO, involves a dangerous methodology using butane as the main solvent. While a number of variables can determine the final consistency of BHO (mostly temperature), people use different names when referring to each of the different consistencies and the type of product it was processed from. Shatter for instance, refers to the glass-like consistency that often snaps or “shatters” when handled. Budder, honeycomb, crumble, sap and live resin are also used to describe the different textures, though they all fall under the category of BHO.
Under this form of extraction, THC content can be as high as 80-90%. This makes BHO a popular choice for many medical marijuana patients suffering from chronic pain, sleep disorders, and other intractable symptoms. Always be sure that your oil is lab tested for purity, as improperly purged BHO may contain traces of butane, pesticides, or other unhealthy contaminants.
SUPERCRITICAL CO2 OIL
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a supercritical fluid, meaning it converts into a liquid form when pressurized. At the same time, CO2 is a pure chemical substance that occurs naturally and leaves behind no residues. The CO2 extraction process allows compounds to be extracted with low toxicity and utilizes a high pressure vessel containing cannabis. Supercritical CO2 is inserted into the vessel and pumped through a filter where it is separated from the plant matter once the pressure is released. Next, the supercritical CO2 evaporates rendering your cannabinoids.
RICK SIMPSON OIL (RSO)
Rick Simpson Oil (RSO), whole-plant cannabis oil can be orally administered or applied directly to the skin. Sublingual delivery is the preferred method of treatment for many cancer patients. Not only is it a convenient way to medicate, but intake through the oral mucosal membranes in your mouth provides for rapid and effective absorption directly into your systemic circulation because of the increased bioavailability of the cannabinoids.
True whole-plant oil derived from the cannabis plant is made from buds and is comprised of many different cannabinoids including THC, CBD, CBN, CBG… Many other business now sell their own renditions of the Rick Simpson Oil, some of which are high in THC while others contain only non-psychoactive compounds like CBD.
Rosin has been gaining a lot of traction in the medical cannabis community as of lately, and for good reason. Rosin is a solid form of resin that is obtained by adding pressure and heat to vaporize volatile liquid terpenes, typically with an industrial heat press (or even a hair straightener for small batches).
The rosin technique is quick, simple and affordable, allowing anyone to create quality solventless hash in a matter of seconds. To get started making Rosin, you only need a few basic tools in order to create a quality finished product.
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